Snow and escapism


My backyard…24/Feb/2018

Well, so, this happened this week.Generally, by February, Vancouver’s more about the cherry blossoms and rainbows. This February decided to remind us sissy Lower Mainlander types that Vancouver is, in fact, in Canada, and we should learn how to use a shovel like the rest of the country.

It looks a bit like an out-take from ‘The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe’. Look, I’ve even got a lantern.

It contributed to my holing up in my study and getting some serious editing in – where ‘editing’ means I was re-writing a section that involved looking up just what harbour approach to Trinidad looks like. It occurred to me, as I zoomed in on the satellite view, that there was something seriously odd about sitting in a Canadian snowstorm and writing about vampire hunters sailing a yacht into Trinidad. I mean, what other possible hobby offers that kind of mental dissonance?

Until I was six, snow was something that happened to other people. I grew up in the Caribbean and southern Europe, and while sunburn was something that happened with tedious regularity, along with cockroaches taking over the bilges and jellyfish stings, snow was something I’d only read about. (Oddly enough, in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.)

Also my backyard. There’s a common theme.

I had my first encounter with snow when my grandmother was taken ill in mid-winter in the UK, and my mother packed me and the warmest clothes we had (not a whole heck of a lot, really), and took off to Brighton to look after her. We arrived at Gatwick in a snowstorm, travelled south in a snowstorm (me wrapped in Dad’s ancient down puffer vest that pretty much dragged the ground at that point), and arrived in my granny’s house to find that in her absence all the pipes had frozen.

To distract me from the fact it was debatably colder inside than outside, my mother decided to broaden my education with a quick overview of applied ballistics, took me outside, and tried to teach me to make snowballs so I could shoot back. Suffice it to say, six-year-old me thought this idea blew massive chunks, that I preferred my ice in drinks, and we could go home any time, thanks.

Looking at that satellite view of Trinidad with the snow piling up on the roof outside reminded me of that incident, and co-incidentally that despite my co-workers’ occasional disbelief, writing is a fantastic exercise in escapism. I actually really do work a full day, drive home through Vancouver traffic (and while Canadians in person are some of the nicest, friendliest people I’ve ever met, the vast majority are shite drivers), and then often head upstairs salivating to write. Or edit. Or, as any author will tell you, perform that vital part of writing known as research (aka screw around on social media while waiting for the words to go).

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